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Purcell’s music was composed to complement a performance of a bowdlerised A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a sort of late seventeenth-century mashup, and as such leaves us with a problem. To perform it with the play would make for an overly long evening; to perform it without, as a series of nine masques, leaves us with no core narrative. David Pountney’s 1995 production for ENO eschews the play and retains the music, which he uses to create his own version of the play, so the basic story is told. He captures the madness of the original with a bravura staging, performed with gusto by a large ensemble. The wit and inventiveness are astounding, plus it is laugh-out-loud funny – Jonathan Best’s Drunken Poet threatens to steal the show. The choreography by Quinny Sacks matches perfectly and involves the singers as well as the dancers. Yvonne Kenny’s pearlescent soprano is caught at its peak as Titania, Tom Randle is a lithe Oberon and Nickolas Kok leads a springy performance from the pit, though things flag a little by the end.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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